Bad news for those who suffer from anxiety, become overly competitive, or simply choke under pressure: New research suggests you may have to stay home on Earth while other, more laid-back, “nice” types , colonize Mars.
The new study, which is still undergoing peer review, ran computer simulations to track the progress of human settlements on the Red Planet during their first 28 years of virtual operation.
“Agreeable personality types were rated as the most durable over the long term,” the researchers found, of the four personality types used in their simulations, “while neurotics showed the least adaptability.” .
The researchers also found that the minimum number of colonists required to successfully operate a human colony on Mars was far lower than originally predicted: just 22 people.
“Contrary to other writings,” they write of their simulated Martian colonies, “the minimum number of people of all personality types that can lead to a lasting settlement is in the tens, not the hundreds.”
The new simulation draws on a wide range of data: economic and agricultural articles; a review of International Space Station capabilities; data collected from Antarctic outposts, submarines and more; but not from Matt Damon’s 2015 film The Martian (above)
The four traits that will keep you alive on Mars
Social scientists and computer scientists from George Mason University have focused on four key attributes a Martian colonist should possess if they hope to survive the hardships and sudden tragic surprises of life on the Red Planet.
Which of these personality traits resembles you?
Low competitiveness. The ‘pleasant’ category, which performed best in the study simulations, was more cooperative and less ‘winner takes all’ than the ‘neurotics’ or ‘reactives’ who both scored poorer results. A Martian base divided against itself cannot stand.
Adaptable to change. The “pleasant” winners were also programmed to be less obsessed with maintaining a “strict routine,” which helped them to be better prepared to handle the unexpected. They were always ready and willing to adapt and survive.
Neither introverted nor extroverted. “Social,” a category close to “pleasant,” except for their tendency to “demand social interaction,” were far from the best suited for Martian habitation. The reason would appear to be that while a Settler should be able to work well with others, the desire for camaraderie will inevitably impair their ability to perform critical tasks that require concentration and solitude.
Low aggressiveness. The “neurotic” group fare the worst, in part because of their “highly aggressive interpersonal characteristics,” which often prove fatal when the simulation confronts them with a crisis. It would seem that a colony lives and dies together. There is no “I” in Mars Colony.
The study’s authors, all computational social scientists from George Mason University, entered data from a variety of related scenarios to better inform their computational model: economic research and agricultural data; a review of International Space Station (ISS) resource storage and production capabilities; data collected from Antarctic research outposts, submarine crews and more.
“Establishing a human colony on Mars is an incredibly complex engineering problem,” the researchers said in their project, published on arXiv for evaluation.
“Beyond technical and engineering challenges,” they write, “future settlers will also face psychological and human behavioral challenges.”
“Our goal is to better understand the behavioral and psychological interactions of future Martian colonists through a Agent-based modeling (ABM simulation).
A mix of other computer simulation concepts including game theory and “evolutionary programming” used to study biological systems. The agent-based simulation split the “free agent” virtual humans into four. basic personality types.
Their model defined the “pleasant” type as an individual with “the lowest degree of competitiveness, low aggression, and not obsessed with a strict routine.”
The “social” type was defined as “individuals with an average degree of competitiveness, extroverted, requiring social interaction, but not obsessed with strict routines”.
In contrast, a personality described as “reactive” has a moderate degree of competitiveness and a fixation on sticking to strict routines.
The fourth and final group in the model, the “neurotics,” had “a high degree of competitiveness, very aggressive interpersonal characteristics, and an ability to adapt to boredom or a change in routine” – making them the least adaptable to surprise challenges that may arise. come with maintaining a colony on Mars.
The George Mason researchers made a set of generous assumptions about their model, including routine supply shipments from Earth and a nuclear generator capable of providing the colony with constant electricity for at least seven years.
Their Martian colony “sims” have been tasked with mining valuable minerals to ship back to Earth.
“The primary focus is on the personality types of the selected colonists and how they behave throughout their time on Mars,” they wrote, “using their skills to mine minerals and react to random accidents of resupply shuttles or housing disasters”.
After running their “MARS-COLONY agent-based model” five times for 28 simulated years each, and varying the colony population size from 10 to 170 colony between trials, they found that the base could function for decades with only 22 inhabitants.
After running their “MARS-COLONY agent-based model” (above) five times for 28 simulated years each, and varying the colony population size from 10 to 170 colony between trials, the researchers discovered that the base could operate for decades with only 22 colonists. residents
In future simulations, the researchers plan to experiment with the ratio of personality types among Martian colonists. Their hope is to find out if a team made up of all-casual “nice guys” could really beat mixed groups made up of all types in their past trials.
In most of their simulations, the researchers found that their colony could generally bounce back as long as its total population remained at 10 or more colonists between tragedies and setbacks.
This turned out not to be true in cases where the colony could not bounce on its own, between resupply missions from Earth which their simulation predicted once every 1.5 years.
“The inhospitable nature of the Martian environment demands that any habitat be largely self-sufficient,” they noted. “The stress caused by accidents, as well as interactions with other colonists, has adverse consequences.”
For social scientists George Mason, the simulation shows that ‘success in extreme environments’ can be largely attributed to ‘adaptiveness’ – the way people go with the flow during hardship, adapt to unexpected changes and improvise in the midst of difficulties. adverse conditions or disasters.
In future simulations, the researchers plan to experiment with the ratio of personality types among colonists at each Martian base.
Their hope is to find out if a team made up of all-casual “nice guys” could really beat mixed groups made up of all types in their past trials.